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Terrorism the GOP Trump Card?

By: The Unrecontructed Southerner

“Certainly it would be a big advantage to McCain.” With this loaded statement regarding another possible terrorist attack on US soil, McCain aide and former staff member to Senator Helms, Charlie Black, ignited a media brush fire that has caused his boss a few headaches and resurrected the specter of Al Qaeda in the presidential election. Yet the main question to be asked is not the wisdom of making such an impolitic statement, but whether or not it is in the end true?

The conventional wisdom for the last 40 years since Vietnam is that national security issues are the exclusive purview of the Party of Reagan. When national security was primarily on the mind of the voting public it was the GOP’s breadwinner as President’s Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush’s can attest. Just as readily President’s Carter and Clinton would be able to cite the Watergate scandal and the economy in 1976 and 1992 as the reasons for their victories. Yet time, events, and public perception have a way of changing things. While it may seem impossible for a one term neophyte senator from Illinois to beat a tested and true war hero on national security, stranger things have happened in American politics.

Should the terrible occur and our attention is locked onto our TV screens with scenes reminiscent of that dark September day in 2001, the question of who is to blame will inevitably come up. And what will President Bush be able to say when asked is America as secure as it could be after September 11? What will happen when people ask why wasn’t the same border over which millions of illegal aliens have crossed under Bush’s tenure secured? Underscore this fact when the President is withdrawing the National Guard from the border against the recommendations of the border state governors. What about the six ports that the Bush Administration wanted to hand operational control over to Dubai, which served as a stopover for two of the hijackers on 9/11, were they secure? Faced with these painful questions will the Bush Administration and John McCain be able to say that their policies of fighting terrorism are the best ones to keep us safe?

While such thoughts are mere speculation at this time, they would undoubtedly be front and center in the wake of any post terror attack debate before the election. Such debate sunk America’s ally, Maria Aznar of Spain, when his government was voted out mere days after Al Qaeda attacked the Madrid subway system in 2004. Any attack would also make the War in Iraq front and center, which long ceased being a winning issue for the Republican Party despite the congressional Democrat’s collusion to continue the funding of the war without troop withdrawal timelines. It is however the one concrete issue upon which Barack Obama has based his campaign and would underscore his point that the invasion and occupation of that country has failed to make America safer.

While polling doesn’t support this premise of mine, and the public still regards McCain as the best man to handle terrorism, his campaign had best not take the scenario of Charlie Black’s for granted. Should such evil some to America’s shores again these hard questions will be asked and McCain better have some hard answers to them if he wishes to make it to Election Day. Otherwise the onetime GOP trump card will be the last addition to Obama’s royal flush leading him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.